Criminal Justice

Daniel Lopez, 23, waits in Polunsky Unit's visiting room for guards to escort him back to his cell on death row. by Alex Hannaford

Letters from Death Row: Alone on the Inside

In an informal Observer survey, death row inmates describe a world of extreme isolation, where mental illness is both cause and symptom.

The Observer found that prisoners often choose a life of permanent isolation, refusing to leave their cages. It’s a catch-22: Mental illness can lead inmates ...Read More

Dawson State Jail by Forrest Wilder

Right (and Wrong) on Crime

For all the praise heaped on Texas for criminal justice reform, we’ve barely even begun the thaw.

After 14 years of enthusiastic prison-building, Perry is taking credit for a tiny softening in his rhetoric on crime just in time for a presidential run....Read More